Terrorism & Assassinations

Posted in Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani was Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) from 1989-2005.  The SNSC is Iran’s highest national security organization.  It coordinates “policy, intelligence, social, cultural and economic activities pertaining to defense and security policies.”1  The organization has 13 members, including the head of the Armed Forces, Chief of the Army, Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chief of the Islamic Revolution’s Guards Corps (IRGC).

Rouhani was appointed to the Council in 1991 by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei soon after it was created and was his representative on the Council. 

The SNSC has a parallel organization called the Committee for Special Operations (Omure Vijeh Committee) [aka Special Affairs Committee] to deal with “extralegal” actions.   The panel essentially has the same members as the SNSC and is “merely a change of name,” according to Abolghasem Mesbahi, a high ranking Iranian intelligence officer who defected and presented testimony about the organization.2    

When Rouhani was a member of the Committee for Special Operations (CSO), it regularly authorized “extralegal” terrorist attacks and assassinations.  As a result, the U.S. State Department named Iran as the "most active of the state sponsors [of terrorism]."  

As a member of the SNSC and Committee for Special Operations, Rouhani was directly involved in many of the terrorist attacks and assassinations.  Only these panels have the authority to make decisions on security matters of such major importance.3

The Supreme Leader has ultimate authority over the decisions made by the SNSC, and as Khamenei’s representative on the Council, Rohani would necessarily have been involved in the deliberations on terrorist attacks and assassinations.

Eliminating Political Opponents

One of the special issues handled by the Committee for Special Operations “was the suppression and elimination of political opposition to the Islamic Republic,” according to a report by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC).4  It stated that after Khomeini’s death in June 1989, "the responsibility for recommending individual assassinations fell to the Special Affairs Committee.”  Additionally:

Once the Committee’s recommendation was approved by the Supreme Leader, an individual committee member would be charged with implementing the decision with the assistance of the Ministry of Intelligence.”5

IHRDC said the Special Affairs Committee is linked to the murder of at least 162 political opponents outside Iran.6  Given Rouhani’s position on the SNSC and Special Affairs Committee, he had to have been involved in many of the executions on foreign soil “in contravention of national and international law.”7

Rouhani is on record supporting the elimination of political opponents aboard.  In a 1994 interview with Ettela’ at, an Iranian newspaper, he said, “[Iran] will not hesitate to destroy the activities of counterrevolutionary groups abroad.”8

Sadegh Sharafkandi

Rouhani was a member of the Committee for Special Operations, an elite group of leaders that approved extralegal actions, including the assassination of Sadegh Sharafkandi.Sadegh Sharafkandi, Secretary General of the Iranian Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDPI) and three Kurdish exiles were gunned down by masked gunmen in a Berlin restaurant on September 17, 1992.  A German court in April 1997 determined the attack was perpetrated by “the highest levels of the Iranian State,” implicating without names Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Refanjani.9

The attack occurred while Rouhani was a member of the Special Affairs Committee and Secretary of SNSC.  As such, he would have been involved in the decision to authorize the murders of the Kurdish leader and exiles.

In response to the German court ruling, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and all EU countries except Greece recalled their ambassadors from Iran.  In retaliation, Rouhani announced the cancellation of a planned visit to Tehran by an economic delegation from Australia and suspended trade contracts with New Zealand. Germany expelled four diplomats and Iran recalled its Ambassador in Bonn and also expelled four diplomats.

Rouhani called for a “total revision of ties with Germany.”  He urged a ban on all purchases from Germany, which exported some $1.3 billion in goods to Iran.

Israel Embassy Bombing

On March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber smashed a vehicle filled with explosives into the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and wounding another 242.

Argentina officials believe they have “convincing evidence” Iran was involving in the terrorist bombing.10  It's believed Iran financed and planned the attack, which was then carried out by the Islamic Jihad.

Mohsen Rabbani, the cultural attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Argentina, likely planned and organized the attack.  He also was the mastermind in the 1994 attack on the Jewish Community center in Buenos Aires.11  

“Several Iranian witnesses reportedly told the judge [investigating the attack] that the Iranian diplomat [Rabbani] had falsified passports and even given the orders to terrorists who carried out the attacks.”12  Argentine government intelligence agents reportedly intercepted telephone conversations that originated inside the Iranian Embassy “strongly suggesting the complicity of Mr. Rabbani in the bombings,” according to the New York Times.13

The Argentine government has yet to adequately investigate the embassy attack.  Available evidence strongly indicates Iran was involved in the truck bombing.  And authority to conduct the attack would have to have been authorized by Iran’s Special Affairs Committee, during which time Rouhani was a member.

Jewish Center Suicide Bombing

More than 85 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in the 1994 terrorist attack on the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building, instigated by Iran's Committee for Special Operations when Rouhani was a member.On July 18, 1994, a suicide truck bomber detonated a huge bomb while parked near the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentine (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds of others.

The decision to mount the attack was made at a meeting of the Committee for Special Operations on August 14, 1993, according to testimony by Abolghasem Mesbahi, a high ranking Iranian intelligence officer who defected and later presented testimony on the incident.14  He said the Committee for Special Operations regularly “met under the chairmanship of Ali Khamenei and whose other members were Rafsanjani, Mir Hejazi, Rouhani, Velayati, and Fallahijan.”15

On July 18, the day the final decision was made to attack the AMIA center, Rouhani allegedly was not present, according to Attorney General Alberto Nisman.16  The decision to carry out the attack was made by Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Hashemi Rafsanjani.17 

At the time, Rouhani was Khamenei’s representative on the SNSC and was Rafsanjani’s top national security advisor. Rouhani would have been present in deliberations about the attack.  According to Reuel Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, Rouhani “certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack.”18

Thus, while Rouhani, as Secretary of the SNSC, may not have personally make the final decision, he was involved in discussions on the incident and thus must be viewed as a co-conspirator of the terrorist attack on the Jewish center. 

In November 2007, Interpol placed the following seven people on its “red notice” list who are officially accused of participating in the attack:

* Imad Fayez Moughnieh – a senior leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah
* Ali Fallahijan – former Minister of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)
* Mohsen Rabbani – Cultural Attache in the Iranian Embassy in Argentina
* Ahmad Reza Asghari – third secretary of the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires
* Ahmad Vahidi – then-commander of the Ouds Force, a special unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
* Mohsen Rezai - then head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and later member of the SNSC
* Ali Akbar Velayati – then Iran’s Foreign Minister

In 2013, Rezai and Velayati were candidates for president of Iran.

Kohbar Towers Truck Bombing

Rouhani has never been brought to justice for his participation in the terrorist attack on Khobar Towers in 1996, which killed 19 Americans and injured hundreds of others.A massive truck bomb exploded near Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring nearly 400 others.  As in the suicide bombing of the Jewish center, the attack on Khobar Towers is of such magnitude that it could not have been undertaken without the approval of the SNSC/Committee for Special Operations, to which Rouhani was then a member.

According to then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, there is “direct evidence of Iran’s complicity” in the attack.  Top security ministers, he said, even selected the target.19

“Senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and the Spiritual Leader’s [Supreme Leader’s] office,” Freeh said, “had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation.”20

The FBI was the lead US agency that investigated the Khobar Tower terrorist attack.  The Saudi Security Office, also conducted an investigation of the incident, leading to the arrest of six of the bombers.  They “admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in the Beka Valley,” according to Freeh.21

The bombers were given passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus.  To carry out the attack, they received $250,000 from Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps General Ahmad Sharifi.

Clinton Refused to Assist Investigation

After the attack, President Clinton declared that “no stone would be left unturned” to bring the terrorist bombers to justice.  The Saudi Security Office informed the FBI about the six bombers.  Before they could be interviewed by FBI agents, however, a request had to be made by President Clinton to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

President Clinton refused to support the FBI's investigation of Iran's participation in the terrorist bombing of Khobar Towers. At the time, Clinton was seeking to curry favor with the mullahs and bringing the Iranian murderers to justice was an inconvenient truth that would likely have derailed his hope for a rapprochement with the terrorist-sponsoring regime.Freeh passed along this information to Clinton and waited for him to make the call.  But month and month passed, without any action by Clinton.  “For 30 months nothing happened,” Freeh said. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, never once asked how the FBI investigation was proceeding.

With President Clinton unwilling to help in the investigation, Freeh turned to former President George H.W. Bush for assistance.  After being briefed, Bush readily contacted Abdullah and asked the crown prince to allow FBI agents to interview the detained bombers.  Abdullah agreed and weeks later agents met with the bombers, collecting direct evidence of Iran’s complicity in the terrorist attack. 

After gathering the evidence, Freeh advised Berger that he had obtained proof Iran was responsible for the Khobar Towers attack.  Berger, according to Freeh, offered no congratulations on a job well done.  Instead, he inquired, “Who knows about this?” He then discounted the evidence, stating “That’s just heresy.”23

President Clinton and Sandy Berger did not want to hear that Iran was responsible to murdering 19 Americans.  Clinton was hoping to achieve a rapprochement with Iran’s mullahs and didn’t want any complications blocking this effort, even if Americans had been murdered.  

And so Iran’s top leaders – including Rouhani – were not named and held accountable for the terrorist attack.  Instead, the Clinton Administration made repeated concessions to Iran to curry their favor.  While the mullahs welcomed the actions, they ultimately refused to establish normal relations with the US.

The following operatives of the Khobar Towers attack were indicted for murder, conspiracy, and other charges in June 2001:

* Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil - The FBI is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.  He   drove the truck bomb to the Towers than jumped out and dashed to a waiting car and escaped.  He is head of the military wing of the pro-Iranian Saudi Hizballah.

* Abdelkarim Hussein Mohaed Al-Nasser - Leader of Saudi Hizballah, the FBI has a $5 million reward for his capture.  .

* Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie - He was the passenger in the truck bomb and is also on the FBI’s most wanted list.

* Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub - He is a member of Saudi Hizbollah and still a fugitive named on the FBI wanted list.

Freeh said the two primary leaders of the Khobar Tower’s attack - Al-Mughassil and Al-Nasser - are today “living comfortably in Iran.”57  The terrorist bombers have yet to be brought to justice, as well as co-conspirators including Rouhani and other top leaders of Iran.  Click here for additional details on Kohbar Tower by Louis Freeh. 


 1) Office of Criminal Investigations AMIA CASE," Investigations Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, October 25, 2006.

2) Ibid.

3) Ibid.

4) "No Safe Haven: Iran's Global Assassination Campaign," Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, May 2008. 

5) Ibid.

6) Ibid.

7) Ibid.

8) Ibid.

9) International News, Associated Press, April 13, 1997.

10) "20 Years After Bombing of Israel's Embassy in Argentina: WJC Leaders Call for Justice," States News Service, March 16, 2012.

11) "Argentina Arrests 8 Iranians and Ousts 7 in Anti-Jewish Bombings," New York Times, May 17, 1998.

12) Ibid.

13) Ibid.

14) "Office of Criminal Investigations AMIA CASE," Investigations Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, October 25, 2006.

15) Ibid.

16) "Iran's Rouhani Had No Role in 1994 Argentina Bombing, Prosecutor Says," The Times of Israel, June 25, 2013.

17) "Iran's President-Elect Implicated in 1994 Argentina Bombing," The Times of Israel, June 20, 2013.

18) Ibid.

19) "Khobar Towers," by Louis Freeh, Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2006.

20) Ibid.

21) Ibid.

22) Ibid.

23) Ibid.